It’s a simple fact of life; everyone has blood pressure; it’s the amount of work that your heart must do to pump blood around your body.
When the heart squeezes blood out, this is called systolic pressure. Then when your heart relaxes and allows the blood to flow back, this is called diastolic pressure.
By measuring these two readings, you can tell the level of your blood pressure; if it is on the high side, it puts pressure on your cardiovascular system causing damage over time—the higher your blood pressure, the greater your risk of heart attack or stroke.
When Kirby Site Manager Damien Shirwin and EHS advisor Michael Doyle planned a health screening initiative for site, blood pressure testing seemed like something that could make a real difference and be done easily.
Michael, a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician with the Order of Malta, asked the Navan branch to bring one of their ambulances to site and make it accessible for easy BP testing.
By making it easy to get tested, the significant uptake onsite came as no surprise.
What did come as a bit of an eyeopener was the result on the day!
Out of the 58 people tested, 7 had above-normal blood pressure, with 4 of those referred to their doctor for further tests while 1 ECG was carried out on site.
12% of those tested are now aware of a potentially life-threatening condition that they didn’t know they had before they came to work that day. A slightly shocking statistic, admittedly, but one with a hugely positive outcome for all involved.
Not one of the identified cases had any idea they had high blood pressure or displayed any outward symptoms. The silent nature of this condition is what makes it so deadly and highlights why being tested regularly is vital to heart health.
Over half of all adults in Ireland over 45 years of age have high blood pressure. However, about 4 in every 5 men and 2 in every 3 women with high blood pressure are not being treated.
Michel said:” I am very passionate about helping people and getting the heart health message out there. I lost my eldest daughter last year, I carried out CPR, but she was gone. I want to help others by conducting health screening as we often ignore what our body is telling us. Four people acted on our advice today, which is a very positive thing.”
He added, “The fact that the tests were conducted right here on site contributed to a massive turnout. Most said they only attended because it was so convenient, and they would never get blood pressure checked otherwise.”
“We wanted to cast the net wide to catch as many people as possible, so while this was a Kirby initiative, it was open to the whole site, client and other contractors alike. The feedback was so positive with 100% buy-in from the client side.”
The testing was carried out during staggered lunch breaks, fitting easily into the working day and COVID guidelines.
The good news is that while high blood pressure cannot be cured it is perfectly treatable and can be kept in check by simple lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medication.
However, many of us with high blood pressure don’t even know, as it rarely shows any symptoms until it’s too late.
A simple test like the one Kirby offered to the site is all you need to give you information that may save your life.
Site Manager Damien Sherwin said: “My dad has high blood pressure and needs to take tablets to keep his blood pressure in line.
So, when Michael came up with the idea, I backed him 100% because it touched a scenario close to home. It was a major success, and I hope other sites can follow with something similar.
Try to get your blood pressure checked regularly and ask what your reading is. The only way to look after – and know – if you have high blood pressure is to measure it. Then, if it is high, ask your doctor how best to bring it down.
If you are over 30, it’s best to have your blood pressure checked every year. If your blood pressure is borderline high (around 140 over 90), you’ll need to get it checked more often by a doctor or nurse.
The first step to improving your blood pressure is to know it. High blood pressure is best managed by you and your doctor. So, make a note now to have your blood pressure checked or call into your pharmacist today for two minutes – it could save your life.
For more information, see here: https://croi.ie/health/heart-conditions/high-blood-pressure/